January 3, 2017
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Why is Proverbs 3:5-6 the most trinket engraved bible verse in the whole book? Why is it claimed as perhaps the most “favorited” life-text in the world?
For starters, it’s a beautiful aspiration, but that alone can’t account for its popularity. I have a theory on why.
It’s true. These twenty-nine words capture in compendium form the whole of Scripture. From Adam to the Apostles, from Eve to Elizabeth, and from Jeremiah to Jesus, every story in the book, for better or for worse, proves this Holy Spirit distilled saying. Beyond this, millions upon millions of ordinary Christians like you and me have seen it proved true in our lives.
There’s a small yet comprehensive word appearing twice in the text. I would like to bring to the fore. The word is, “all.” In v.5 we see, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” and in v.6 we see, “in all your ways acknowledge him.” This accounts for the gap between the magnets on our refrigerators and our Monday mornings. All means all. Until we begin to come to grips with the totalizing nature of this little word, “all,” we are destined to some variety of this uninspiring version of nominal faith. I’ll grant you—the issue is not black or white. Faith is never an all or nothing proposition. That would make it much easier; like either taking the flu shot or not. It’s not being an “all or nothing” kind of person that gets us. It’s being an “all or something” kind of person.
Most people who lack the faith to go “all-in,” also lack the courage to get “all-out.” As a consequence, they remain stuck in a lukewarm netherland. The Christian faith is not like the Lion’s Club. It’s not volunteerism. There are no annual dues to keep one’s membership current?
May I be emphatic? The Christian faith of the Bible is all or nothing. Now, may I risk being offensive? If you push back on my emphatic “all or nothing” assertion, it’s because you lack the courage to choose. Settling for the easy out of, “At least I’m doing something,” is not biblical faith. It’s nominal Christianity. The enemy of our age is not doing nothing. It’s the mentality that says something is enough.
To be clear, “all” doesn’t mean you’ve got it all figured out and sealed up. “All” is not measured by perfect attendance, good behavior or charitable giving. My “all” cannot be measured by your assessment. Only God can know because it’s about the two all consuming intangible dispositions of our inmost self: trust and submission, or surrendered-ness. This must be resolved at the subterranean level of one’s will—far beneath the ephemeral nature of emotion.
The greatest gift we can give to one another is to become graciously, yet brutally, honest with ourselves. Resolve this today. Abandon yourself to God in trust and submission.
Abba Father, save me from the easy seduction of settling for something. Deliver me from the muddle of mediocrity all around me and the subtle ways I sit in judgment of it. Awaken me to the awareness that an authentic “nothing” is better to you than a vague something. Come Holy Spirit and grant me the courage of Jesus to go all in. I surrender my will to you. I trust in you. Thank you for going all in for me. In Jesus name, Amen.
1. How might we cease judging the faith of others and truly come to grips with the nominal nature of our own faith?
2. Would you consider surrendering the totality of your will to Jesus Christ? What keeps you from this?
3. What do you think would happen if you ceased being a “something” person and became an “all” person? What does Scripture say would happen?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.